The Great Ongoing Space Exploration Thread

Even with improvements in ground-based telescopes, the Webb will have plenty to do. If nothing else, there’s only a finite, and fairly small, number of Really Good Telescopes (both on earth and in space): Adding one more is significant, even if it’s not the best. Heck, that even applies for old tech like the Hubble: If we were to somehow launch a dozen more exact copies of the HST, we’d still have enough good science to keep them all busy.

I knew about the Webb telescope but hadn’t bothed looking up details and head in my head it was going to be a hubble looking thing with funky folding features. Looking at wiki it is a cool looking beast. Unfortunately that lead to a wiki trek through Lagrange points, the interplanetary transport networks and ended at gravitational keyhole. I have learned gravity is awesome and I really don’t want to do my product portfolio review.

Definitely looking forward to the Europa Clipper. There’s some ongoing chaos with regard to how it gets launched: it was intended to be launched on the SLS (and in fact is Congressionally mandated to be flown on one), but there may not be one available for its launch window. The SLS would give the shortest duration travel time, but a Falcon Heavy could do the job as well with an extra gravity assist.

I am also looking forward to what the SpaceX Starship can accomplish. It will put 100 tons into LEO for cheap, and with a 9 meter diameter cargo bay. Many current missions were designed around the constraints of smaller, more expensive launch vehicles. The James Webb scope for instance is this intricate origami design so that it could fit in a standard payload fairing. Future scopes can be cheaper and simpler by targeting the capabilities and price of Starship.


Every fine machine reaches end of life. But it sure smells like Arecibo is dying for lack of budgetary interest, not for lack of ongoing & future exploratory value.

Cross-linking the two semi-current threads on the demise of Arecibo:

This is an ambitious effort by the Chinese:

This is the rocket that is going to take NASA astronauts back to the moon.

According to that BBC report, the SLS is going to launch once unmanned, followed by a manned launch. As I remember, they made SpaceX launch a whole bunch of times before they’d let them launch a manned mission. And that was just for going to the ISS. The first manned Artemis is supposed to go around the Moon.

So what’s the deal? Is it just engrained NASA prejudice against anything not invented here/commercial spacecraft? Or is the Artemis program way too aggressive due to political pressure? Or some combination of the above?

Well they can automate the launch without risking the lives of a crew so why not do that?

It looks like an extremely ambitious program (if I’m understand it right) with this unmanned mission, a moon flyby for the second mission, and a moon landing on only the third mission in 2024:

IIRC, much of the SpaceX hardware was not designed from the git-go to NASA specs for man-rated hardware. SLS was. That’s a huge difference.

Through enough work, SpaceX proved to NASA that although they did not design it using NASA specs, they did achieve the same safety levels. Part of that work was analysis conducted by NASA, and part of tht was flights conducted by SpaceX.

In aviation we are undergoing a similar revolution in regulatory approach. With some teething pains of course. Starting from immediately post WWII FAA told you how to build an airplane, not how safe it had to be. They are moving to management by safety objective vs management by design standard compliance.

Hyabusa 2 will drop off some void opals from an asteroid mining mission tomorrow which should get it to Elite status prior to its next mission heading out out to errr wait wrong thread.

Well ok Hyabusa 2 is still dropping off some asteroid samples in Woomera Australia tomorrow before heading back out on a mission extension to look at some more asteroids. I guess that’s one advantage of designing with enough redundancy and margin because you absolutely have to achieve the primary mission objective, if things go well there is plenty left in the tank to go for increasingly higher risk hold my beer and watch this follow on objectives.

It’s insanely ambitious. preposterous IMO. I wish Stranger On A Train were around to comment, but doing all this stuff in three missions is just a fantasy. Granted, Orion is a different program. And Gateway is apparently also separate, so maaaybe there’s a lot of testing of those two things before Artemis III. But then we have the HLS moon lander, another piece expected to land the first time on the first mission. Integrating all three things for the first time in one mission seems nuts to me.

ETA: Wait, four things: lunar gateway. So now we’re going to perform a dance with four big space-tech pieces the first time perfectly. Really.

This video by Scott Manley looks at interesting recent rocket videos from the last few weeks and includes a Rocketlab separation at 75km altitude with sound. And you can hear the rocket separating! What is happening here is that the gas expelled by the rocket is carrying the sound waves… all of the footage here is really interesting and high quality. Worth a watch in as high a quality as your internet will allow.

The loss of Arecibo is devastating; I hope that the planning stages for its successor were already well along.

But hey, exploration didn’t stop; and how cool is this?

Multiple private space-faring vehicles in use at once!

Not just that, but the two ISS missions were less than 3 weeks apart, and SpaceX did two additional missions between those (Starlink and Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich).

Oh, and the Starlink booster they used (B1049, for those keeping track)? It’s launched a total of 310 satellites. That’s approximately 10% of the total number of active satellites in orbit!

Live coverage here of tonight’s Space X test in which they will fly a rocket up to 12.5km, flip it onto its belly to fall back to Earth before relighting its engines to flip back for a landing.

The plan is to send this rocket type to Mars, but it might also be used to land humans on the moon in 2024.

Huh wow. They aborted with 1.3 seconds left in the countdown.

Attempt no.2 tonight. I know you’re all on tenterhooks. Speechless you all are.

Should be awesome.

There is something very Jules Verne / Steampunk-ish about a single stage spaceship not made from ultra-lightweght unobtainium, but rather from good old-fashioned iron. Admittedly iron in the form of a rather fancy stainless steel, but iron nevertheless.

The Svetlovasgradinsky Locomotive Works #4 got nuthin’ on Musks’ team. :wink: